Ronny Lam


What! Another Networking Revolution?

Did we talk about SDN for the last year? Recently this technology got joined by NFV…

It does seem like we’re making more progress brewing alphabet soup in networking these days than in driving change, but there are some very big and important players behind NFV and it’s worth looking at how it might impact network services and even unified communications.

Networking has not evolved for the last 10 years, even IPv6 is a slow-paced evolution instead of the revolution we were expecting. But last year seems to have marked a change in pace. A new revolutionary technology seems to come out every month. And this includes not only pure networking; systems and network are evolving toward each other. We already see that with virtualized systems using network overlay models, for example with VXLAN, where systems control the network traffic.

With Network Functions Virtualization, NFV, we see the evolution going in the other direction. Network functions like firewalls and loadbalancers, which used to reside on specialized hardware, are moving towards virtual devices. Making way for more agility in the network.

This raises the question where this will end. Will every networked device be, a combination of, SDN or NFV? Will the current specialized devices functioning as pure routers or switches go away and make place for more flexible hardware that can be transformed into a specific functionality. Will every device be centrally controlled?

These are exciting times I wouldn’t want to miss for a minute. But it are also hard times for predictions.